Written by Josh Horsman
Dementia is one of the most significant global health challenges facing the modern world. Here are just some of the mind-blowing statistics underpinning the enormous impact the condition is having worldwide. Let's continue to raise awareness and encourage new research and innovative treatments.
According to the World Health Organisation, every 3 seconds someone new is diagnosed with Dementia worldwide. It’s not surprising then that the number of people living with Dementia globally was estimated to be 35.6 million people (2010), making Dementia one of the most significant health challenges facing modern mankind.
Included in this scarcely comprehendable figure are an estimated 5.7 million Americans.
These numbers are expected to increase sharply over the coming years, with estimates suggesting the number of people with Dementia worldwide could double to 65.7 million by the year 2030, a stark reminder of the terrible threat Dementia poses.
Who Has Dementia??
An interesting aspect of Dementia is the way in which its impact differs across diverse groups of people. Dementia affects people differently depending on a range of factors including age, gender and ethnicity. Women, for example, are more likely to develop Dementia than men. In fact, of all those living with Dementia in the USA, a massive two-thirds are women and the statistic is similar in Australia. Dementia is also the leading cause of death for women in most parts of the United Kingdom. Worldwide, a woman age 65 or older has a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer's disease in her lifetime, compared to 1 in 11 for a man.
Another interesting factor is ethnicity. Hispanics, for example, are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites. African-American seniors are also twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites.
Age is another crucial factor. Whilst it’s often assumed that only older people get Dementia, early-onset dementia is an increasingly prominent health challenge, with 200,000 people under the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s in the US alone.
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, responsible for 40 to 70% of all cases. It primarily affects memory and thinking skills and causes changes in behavior. It is an age-related condition with the risk of developing AD increasing as you get older. Indeed 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 live with AD and that figure more than doubles to 1 in 6 for those over 80.
Vascular Dementia is the 2nd most common type, accounting for between 15 and 25% of cases. Third most common is Lewy Body Dementia (2-20% of cases) and then Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) which is seen in around 2-4% of all Dementia cases. There are also countless other types which usually involve other conditions causing dementia-like symptoms. Examples of such conditions include Huntington’s Disease, HIV and Parkinson’s Disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Of the huge numbers of people living with Dementia worldwide, it is estimated that a significant majority have not received a formal diagnosis. Even in high-income nations, it is thought that only around 20-50% of all dementia cases are recognised and documented in primary care, while research suggests that as many as 90% of cases remain undiagnosed in developing countries.This leads to the startling realisation that a significant majority of people living with dementia worldwide are not diagnosed and therefore do not have access to the care and treatment they need.